March 3, 1925

CON

George Black

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLACK (Yukon):

Is this the same

treaty concerning which a resolution was on the order paper last session and was withdrawn because the United States Senate adjourned without ratifying it?

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Yes. My hon. friend is right.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I understand that under the rules the House does not go into committee to consider the resolution in detail. I do not know just under what provision-

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

I rise to a point of order. I wish we had a rule in this House which would make the leaders of parties speak in audible terms.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Among other qualifications of my hon. friend he would be quite up to the mark on that score. Under the rules, I am informed, there is no provision by

702 COMMONS

Canada-U.S. Smuggling Treaty

which this resolution can be considered in committee in detail. If that is correct I very much regret the fact. I recall that the ratification by parliament of the French and Italian treaties in some way was considered in committee in detail.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Because, apart from the approval of the treaty, legislation was needed.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes, that is right. The explanation is no doubt correct. But misfortune, though, is still apparent because we cannot consider and question details of this treaty in a formal debate in the House. I say this not because I have in mind any rigorous criticism of the treaty itself. The purposes the treaty has in mind I quite approve of, and I have no doubt every hon. member of the House does as well. Smuggling of recent times has become not only a fine art but a very remunerative and widely extended occupation-one of the most successful, one of the few prosperous occupations of the present time in this country. The dimensions which smuggling has reached, according to the views of those who should know best, are really appalling. I regret that the Minister of Customs and Excise (Mr. Bureau) is not in his seat, as I would like to question him as to his view on this subject.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I think my right hon. friend is aware that the Minister of Customs and Excise (Mr. Bureau) has not been well for some time past, and unfortunately this afternoon is indisposed.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I am not intimating that he is away because the treaty is before the House, but I should like to have some information as to the correctness of data furnished by various associations and especially by one, as to the extent to which the smuggling is now carried on. As respects ourselves, it presents a problem much wider than it presents as respects the other contracting party, the United States. I do not presume that country is very much troubled with the smuggling evil, except in respect of narcotics and intoxicating liquors. The treaty, from their point of view, is doubtless framed with a view to meeting the troubles they have encountered in enforcing the Volstead Act. But for ourselves the field to be covered is much vaster. Smuggling into Canada extends from liquors to tobaccos, from tobaccos to cottons, and from cottons to woollens, silks, and all specially valuable articles easily procurable across the border. Consequently the terms of the treaty have very special interest to this

country. Many of our laws will be rendered nugatory if smuggling is to be carried on to anything comparable to the degree presented by this association. I am rather disappointed in the terms of the treaty, not that I object to any of them, but they do not seem to me to go any further than what has been, or certainly should have been, the practice of both governments up to the present time. The treaty provides that mutual information shall be furnished by the contracting parties. I think the Prime Minister says that this has been the practice of recent months. Undoubtedly, even without a treaty, it should be the practice at all times and should have been the practice for years departmentally between the governments. I do not object, and there can be no objection appealing to my mind, to this common practice having the sanction of a treaty-resting upon that more secure foundation of making it obligatory upon all parties hereafter. The same provisions seem to be in force with respect to the transfer of liquor. But there is one that may or may not be effective. I refer to the one as to which I questioned the Prime Minister specially-that which is provided in article 2. It seems to me that article . would have been better had it made it obligatory upon the party applying for clearance that the period within which the boat should arrive at destination should be stated. All the article now provides is that if it appears to the customs authorities, say of Canada, that any boat sailing from our shores applying for clearance is not likely, because of its size and the distance to be traversed, to reach its destination within the period stated in the application, then clearance may be denied. It may be one of the regulations of the department that within the application there shall be a stated period, but the department would still be at liberty, so far as this treaty is concerned, to abandon that phase of the regulations. Simply by doing so article 2 would be rendered nugatory. I have not much faith, from what information I have received, in the officers of the Customs department of this country exercising any particularly scrupulous srutiny over clearance papers prior to departure. There have been certain notifications from the department which go to show they have a very wholesome view of exportations from Canada, no matter what the article or destination. The other provision with reference to the return of stolen property is of course an obviously correct one. I have had complaints as to property shipped from the United States to Canada being stolen and not being recover-

Canada-ZJ.S. Smuggling Treaty

able, but it always seemed to me very hard to understand why it would be difficult, once the real owner was discovered, to see to it that some means was provided whereby he could at least come to this country and get his property. The provision as to the interchange of witnesses seems to me a practical and useful one. That is to my mind the principal provision of this treaty. The rest in the main merely covers what is obvious, and what has been, or at least should have been, the practice all along; but the officers of either government would not be compellable to testify in the other country, unless provision was made therefor. The making of this provision should render more easy the establishment of the offence in whichever country committed. All that can be done is to wish well of the treaty and to remark that its efficacy depends to the extent of ninety-nine per cent upon the earnestness and determination of the government and its officers.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice):

As far as the several sections of the treaty are concerned, it may be that they might go further, some of them could go further, as suggested by my right hon. friend; but I would call attention to the fact that this treaty is based largely upon an understanding reached in Ottawa two years ago by the officers of both governments, andl all its provisions were then discussed and fully considered, and the result is what the officers thought best for both countries to agree upon. As far as the evil of smuggling is concerned, I agree with my right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) that it is a most serious evil and that every means should be adopted tending to check it most effectively, and I may say that in that regard the government has decided to deal with the matter in a special way this session by means of legislation and otherwise.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Minister presiding over the Department of Health)

Liberal

Hon. H. S. BELAND (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment and Health):

I think

that the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has very fully explained the provisions of the different clauses of the treaty. I also regret that under the rules of the House we are not permitted' to go into committee of the Whole, where it would be possible for every hon. member to ask questions and receive answers, but I will content myself at the present time by saying that those who desire the suppression of the narcotic evil in Canada-and for that matter all over the world-will hail with deep satisfaction the new agreement that has been

arrived at between Canada and the United States. So far as we are concerned, our narcotic laws are very drastic and very stringent, and inasmuch as Canada does not produce opium or coca-leaves, and furthermore does not manufacture the derivatives of these two raw products opium and coca-leaves, the problem would be very much simplified if we were not deluged with clandestine importations. The treaty which is now submitted to the House for ratification provides for compelling witnesses from either country to attend in the other for the purpose of giving evidence in cases brought before the courts. The treaty also provides for the extradition of persons who may be under bail or convicted under the laws of either country. This will be a great help to us. The House is aware that numberless difficulties confront the Department of Health and also the Department of Justice in administering the act as it stands. It is well known that alkaloids, so-called, or, to use ordinary language, derivatives of opium and coca-leaves, are transported in very small volume, which circumstance makes smuggling all the easier. Another feature of this illicit traffic is that it is rewarded by very large profits.

There are three classes of men with whom we have to deal. We have to deal with the addicts. The House will agree with me that we should regard this particular class with some sympathy. In many quarters they are held to be diseased persons rather than criminals. There is another class, which is not the worst, but which is not to be put in the same class as the addicts. These are the small trafficking people, the deck peddlers, the men who are engaged for a very small remuneration to peddle the powders on street comers, in houses, public places and so on. This class we endeavour to check and to punish as they deserve to be punished. But the class .towards which we should turn our attention is made up of ringleaders as we call them, large traffickers, men generally wealthy or in very comfortable circumstances. Under the tows as they exist between Canada and the United States, it is possible for a man of this importance, when he surpects that the Department of Justice, through the mounted police is getting too active towards himself, to cross over the border and thus be immune as far as he is concerned. Should he, through some channel, realize that, for instance, he is going to be punished within a week or two, his means enable him to move immediately across the border. Such a man may conceal himself beyond our power of dealing with him.

704 COMMONS

Canada-U.S. Smuggling Treaty

That is the case of a man who is suspected, a man who has 'been the subject of close and *persistent investigation for a number of weeks, sometimes for a number of months. Let us go one step further and take the case of a man who has been arrested and who is out on bail. Nothing prevents this man from crossing over the border into the United States and thus relieving himself from any anxiety of action being taken against him under our law. Further, let us take the case of a person who has been convicted under our laws and who appeals against the decision of the court of first instance. He is allowed out on bail. Again, we have a man who has been convicted of carrying on illicit traffic and who can pass over the border and so escape the punishment which he deserves. The treaty as it is now submitted provides for power of extradition of such parties. I am informed by the officials of the Health department that no less than ten or twelve cases have happened during the course of the last twelve months between Canada and the United States, and as regards the United States, we know of three cases where the suspected person, the convicted person, has disappeared from their territory and is probably located' in Canada. The department has been supplied with photographs and descriptions of those 'persons, and were it possible for us to locate them in Canada, we would be absolutely powerless inasmuch as to-day our law does not provide for extradition.

There has been between United States and Canada in this connection very close cooperation. Since I have been at the head of the Health department, I think Canada can congratulate herself on the fact that the closest co-operation has existed between the inland revenue service of the United States and this department. Last year, to exemplify what I have just stated, at our request the United States authorities seized a shipment of 100,000 ounces of coca-leaves which had been landed in New York and had as its destination a fictitious firm in Montreal. What was contemplated by the ringleaders in the United States was, during the progress of this train from New York to Montreal on the American side of the border, to empty the car containing that consignment. The United States were requested to deal with this consignment and they did so in a perfectly satisfactory manner.

Now, I do not think I should prolong this explanation, inasmuch as later on, I .presume, when the estimates of the Department of Health are under consideration, it will be my privilege to explain to the House the various

discussions and negotiations that took place in Geneva during the last opium conference. I may say this much, however, that it is expected that the new convention will prove a step in advance over the convention of 1912 which was decided upon at the Hague. The explanation I had intended giving to the House will have to be postponed in view of the fact that the convention as it was signed early in February has not yet reached me. So far as this treaty is concerned, however, I want to say emphatically that our task will not be made any less arduous but will be rendered the more effective of execution by reason of the fact that we shall be in a position to deal with those powerful traffickers who up to the present time have been mocking at the governments both of the United States and of Canada.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

The first paragraph of the treaty provides that customs and other officials of the respective governments of Canada and the United States shall upon request be directed to attend as witnesses, and so on. Upon whose request are they to attend? Will it be the request of the respective governments? Will these officials, some of whom may be resident in the country of which they are not nationals,-say the immigration officials of the United States resident in Canada -be answerable on a subpoena? I may say to the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) that at the present time United States immigration officials resident in Canada, while they will answer a subpoena, refuse to give any evidence which they may have collected in the course of their official duties.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

The request, no doubt,

will have to be made by the accredited representatives of either government, and in the usual manner.

Hon. GEORGE P. GRAHAM (Minister of Railways and Canals): In the absence of

the Minister of Customs (Mr. Bureau), who unfortunately is ill, I may be permitted to say a word or two. I know that the press has been rather misconstruing a remark which the Minister of Customs made recently in the House in reference to the difficulty of altogether eliminating smuggling. What he had in mind undoubtedly was that in this matter, as in the case of sin, the elimination of the evil cannot be altogether accomplished in this world, although it can be suppressed and reduced to a minimum. This much must be admitted, however, that in recent years smuggling has apparently got to be a science. Whether it be that prohibitions are too strong for human frailty and the desire has conse-

Canada- V.S. Smuggling Treaty

quently been cultivated to break all laws in sight, lam not prepared to say; but this does seem to be the case, that the smugglers both ways have got to understand the rule of transportation, that in order to obtain cheap rates you must have a return cargo. When they take spirituous liquors one way they are inclined to carry silks back, and so they make a double profit. The Minister of Customs is very much alive to this situation, and' he informs me that he is going to ask this House to give him the right, without referring to the Civil Service Commission, to select a number of men specially fitted for this particular work of prevention in the smuggling practice. I do not think that there will be any question about conceding him that right to appoint men of a certain stamp who are specially qualified to suppress this evil. The evil is mot only a moral excrescence but it is also a source of financial loss to the country, and the minister should be permitted to select a number of men, large or small as he sees fit, who, he thinks, have special qualifications for this particular work.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
PRO

Arthur John Lewis

Progressive

Mr. LEWIS:

Can you not get those men through the Civil Service Commission?

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

They are so obtained now.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
PRO

Arthur John Lewis

Progressive

Mr. LEWIS:

Well, is it not possible to get them in the same way in the future?

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I say no, most emphatically. It seems to me you might as well go to the Civil Service Commission for a clergyman.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

May I inform the minister that that is done under the act?

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I shall proceed with the remarks I was going to make.

The government is seriously considering the advisability of bringing in more stringent legislation for the prevention of smuggling. I take it that it would be harsh if the man or woman who smuggled small articles-and nearly all of you do-were to be prosecuted criminally. On the other hand, there seems, no great reason why men or women who deliberately violate the law to the financial loss of their fellow taxpayers and for their own profit should not be prosecuted to the full extent. I will not dwell further on the evils of smuggling, but I would point out that the practice has got to such a stage that a very stringent remedy will have to be applied if it is to be curtailed, as it ought to be curtailed.

Topic:   CANADA-UNITED STATES SMUGGLING TREATY
Permalink
LIB

March 3, 1925